Oh man are we excited about this blog post. To be honest, the heart behind this post has been in the works for almost a year. When Matt and I started Summer Street Photography we truly had no idea how (or if) our business would grow. We were two optimistic photographers with a lot of energy and passion for capturing people on the happiest days of their lives. After a few years of working with amazing clients who allowed us into the private and beautiful spaces of one of the most important days of their lives, and more hard work than we ever thought was possible to make a business run - we found ourselves in the shoes of those we had admired for so long. We were operating a successful business. As we became more rooted in the business and dealt with the glorious blessing of growing pains, we realized that in order to continue moving forward, we couldn't remain where we already were. We needed to take a leap of faith to best serve Summer Street Photography. Leaps into the unknown are scary. What happens if this is the straw that breaks the camels back? What will we do if this doesn't work? How do we write a book if we don't know how it ends?
Today's story is one that started almost a year ago. Chuck was introduced to us by our own dear friends (and our wedding photographers) and we instantly clicked with him. Over many meals and swims in Walden Pond, Matt and I realized something at about the same moment. We needed Chuck on our team. Chuck had a full time wedding photography business before he moved to Boston to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology, and was an amazing photographer. We worked with Chuck on and off last year to test how he would like dealing with the craziness of working with a married couple. Fortunately we didn't scare him off too much because after a few weddings we all realized we'd found a really great team.
We're thrilled to introduce Chuck to you today as our new Associate Photographer. In addition to working with Matt and I at weddings, Chuck is also available for his own wedding commissions through Summer Street Photography. Just like all the weddings we shoot, all of the administrational work (client communication, editing, blogging) that happens though Summer Street happens through me. In fact, many of the weddings we shoot aren't *just* shot by Matt or I. Chuck had his hand in many of last year's weddings as well, so anyone curious about how Chuck's involvement might change the look of our work can rest assured that the images you've seen over the last year have represented many different combinations of photographers. We are so excited about how Chuck's experience and artistry has already made us a better business and we can't wait to see how things will unfold with him on our team this year.
As a way to get to know Chuck better, we decided a mini Summer Street shoot was in order, along with a fun Q&A with Chuck. Something Matt and I didn't realize until this shoot was how bad we were at taking photos of *each other*. It took us a little while to get a shot that we approved of - but once Chuck stepped behind the lens we got what we needed pretty quickly. On to the interview!
So Chuck, tell us a bit about how you got into photography and why you were drawn to shoot weddings? Photography wasn't always in my life, but being artsy was. I grew up drawing, painting, playing music, and writing poetry, so I was always looking for ways of expressing myself. In college, I accidentally took a few aesthetically pleasing photographs, so I tried to figure out how to create beautiful images on purpose. However, my fatal flaw is that when I pick up a hobby, I get really really into it. This meant I quickly ran out of money to buy all the lenses and camera bodies that I wanted. Incidentally, I caught up with a college friend who was a wedding photographer and was creating some amazing pieces of work. I had never thought that weddings allowed for such creativity and beauty. I then started interning with a local wedding photographer, and I found that I not only loved the pace and excitement of weddings, but that the joy and love of the couple was really contagious. Ever since then, I've been hooked!
In addition to Photography, you're pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. How do you feel the two topics inform each other? Would you say that your training in psychology helps you while your shooting weddings? Most definitely! Like I mentioned, weddings can be pretty hectic, but I want the couple to remember what they're ultimately there for... which is each other! Sometimes, it takes someone who has seen a lot of weddings to remind them to slow down, take a breath, and relax a bit. Sometimes it also takes someone to remind them that they need to eat lunch and drink fluids or else they risk passing out in the hot sun :). I haven't had to put on my therapist hat during a wedding (knock on wood), but I like to think that I'm a supportive presence during the day.
What was the last meal you ate? Vina (my wife) made pasta with some fresh pesto (yum). We topped it off with some almond pine-nut cookies, and I plan on having some homemade durian ice cream after I finish this interview!
Canon vs. Nikon? Canon all the way :). Really, it's a trivial thing... I honestly think they're both great cameras, but I learned to shoot on Canon so I've stuck with it. My mentor was a Nikon shooter, but he could never convince me that Nikon was better.
How would you describe your shooting style on the day of a wedding? Previous clients have told me that I'm a calming presence, which I certainly hope is true, but I see it more as being on my game yet relaxed at the same time. There's so much craziness going on during the day, the last thing I want to be is another source of stress. In fact, I actively try to stay behind the scenes as much as possible, and am somewhat of a ninja during the ceremony. However, when things need direction (especially with the family photos), trust me when I say that my game face is on and I'm all business. Ultimately, I'm a firm believer that my job is to capture the emotions of the day and the couple just as they are, and to stay out of the picture as much as I can.
Why are you excited to be a Summer Street Associate? Tons of reasons! First, Kendra and Matt are awesome, so being an associate means I get to see them more! Second, I really appreciate the work and heart that they've built into Summer Street, and how they manage to stay grounded and humble. Ultimately, the day is about the couple, so there's no need for photographer drama or ego. I really respect the values that the business is built on, as well as the beautiful work that comes out of it, and jumped on the opportunity to be a part of the team. Before being an official associate, I had lots of opportunities to shoot with them, and being out there felt like we had been doing this together for a really long time. Third, (let me be selfish for a moment here), I really love shooting and working with the couple, but I don't necessarily love the immense amount of editing and post-processing that comes after it. Being an associate means that I get to shoot more and edit less, which I'll gladly take any day!
Starbucks or Dunkin? I don't drink coffee, but I have a Dunkin next to my house, and love their pumpkin donut-holes in the fall. Mmmm.
What does an ideal day in the life of Chuck look like? That's a tough one. I could spend an entire day fishing or gardening, or spend it backpacking and camping, preferably with my wife. Ideally, there would be some really tasty food involved, whether it was the fish I caught, or veggies from the garden, or a meal cooked over hot coals. Then, after any of the aforementioned possibilities, there would be a professional massage. Mmmmmm.
I hear you had a very serious
addiction collection of Transformers when you were younger. Do you still have some valuable items? Tell us about it. Guilty as charged. I had an enormous collection in middle and high school, and found some of my rare items featured in publications (uber-geek, I know). While I still have a huge amount of nostalgia for the old 80's transformers, I don't own anything that's worth very much anymore. Before selling my collection (which helped pay for a '79 Corvette and college), I kept my very first transformers I got as a kid, which are well loved but not worth very much if I were to sell them. Maybe one day, if I happen upon an unreasonably large sum of money, I might start collecting again...
You just got married in January 2013 (in Thailand no less). How has the experience of being a Groom changed your perspective of shooting weddings? You know, having done so many weddings, I knew that the day went by quickly. Even so, I was surprised at how fast it all happened. At the end of the day, when we look back on our pictures, I'm so grateful for the work of the photographer, but am also reminded that we didn't need to sweat the small stuff. We got a massage in the middle of the day (which I highly recommend!) and just tried to take things slow and enjoy the process. Now that I'm married, I think I'm going to be just a little more sentimental when I do weddings, knowing what it's like on the other side.
Thanks for tuning in! Here's to a year of amazing weddings!